Everyone finalizes their rankings
Tuesday's post covered the final Rivals 100; since Rivals has released all of its final rankings. Scout, 24/7, and ESPN have finalized theirs as well. We're going to ignore small moves down, since those are mostly drops based on other guys flying up the board and don't signify a change of opinion regarding the prospect in question. Guys who had significant moves on at least one site:
COMMITS: STOCK UP
- CT WR Tarik Black got a ten spot bump on Scout.
- FL OL Cesar Ruiz saw steps forward everywhere ranging from minor bumps (247 moved him up 12 spots to #54) to more significant ones (up 36 spots to 41 on Rivals). ESPN has him 28th (up from 69th), which would be five-star territory except ESPN is apparently only handing that out to 14 recruits this year.
- OH DT James Hudson had a big rise on 247 from 237th to just outside the top 100.
- VA DE Luiji Vilain surged to the cusp of five-star status at 247 (up 49 spots to 36th) and up 107 slots to #74 on Rivals. ESPN bumped him up to 69th (nice) from #95.
- MI DE Deron Irving-Bey got a ~25 spot bump on ESPN and a 10 spot bump on Scout.
- FL LB Jordan Anthony got a ~30 spot bump on Scout and was otherwise static.
COMMITS: STATIC BUT I'M MENTIONING THEM ANYWAY
- MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones had a significant fall at 247 to 26th (from 8th) and minor bumps elsewhere. He's now in a very tight range.
- MI CB Ambry Thomas dropped 30 spots to 62nd on 247; he gained about that many slots on Rivals but that only got him up to #146.
COMMITS: STOCK DOWN
- CO QB Dylan McCaffrey took a nosedive. 247 moved him from 58th to 204th; Rivals slid him about 80 spots to land at #131. Scout and ESPN have him in that same range now.
- TX OL Chuck Filiaga dropped about 60 spots to #175 on Rivals. He had a ~10 spot drop on Scout.
- NJ LB Drew Singleton fell 21 spots at 247 to exactly 100th despite being laid up with an ACL injury. That's a grumble.
- UT DT Jay Tufele jumped up to 14th (+25) on 24/7 and 37th(+64) on Rivals.
- GA DT Aubrey Solomon jumped 11 spots to 20th on 24/7 and solidified his five star status elsewhere.
- MS LB Willie Gay jumped 18 spots to 33rd on 24/7 and from outside the Rivals 250 to 73rd.
- IA WR Oliver Martin rose to 47th (+23) at 247 and entered the Rivals 250 at #206.
- GA WR Nico Collins fell about 40 spots to 200th at 24/7 and around 60 spots to 120th at Rivals
More positive than negative here, as the only player to take a major hit was McCaffrey; meanwhile three guys who are in the class (Vilain, Ruiz, Hudson) and four of the five major targets got bumps.
Aubrey Solomon trending to M, says everyone except Aubrey Solomon
Solomon with 2018 commit Otis Reese back in the day
Good news: Michigan's surge on 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon's crystal ball has continued unabated. Michigan's picked up the last 14 picks, amongst them another handful of 24/7 personnel including Steve Wiltfong. Further reports from the Michigan in-home are very positive as well:
“Aubrey’s mom was really impressed that he brought his daughter along,” Webb said. “The visit hit all the marks. Anyone doubting Michigan’s strong standing in the race just isn’t paying attention.”
“It was one of the best in-home visits ever. It was just a different setting to see a coach,” Solomon said. “My mom loved it, too, and was just shocked how engaging the coaches were, especially with my baby sister. His daughter and my sister got a long so well, it was just heartwarming and a great visit.”
Wiltfong went as far as to say that a couple of sources indicated it was a Michigan-USC(!) battle, which would be excellent news indeed.
Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) said Alabama still leads.
"They still lead big, but not by a huge margin," Solomon said. "I like the physicality they bring and their defense."
That was Tuesday about an hour after the previous recruitin' went up; nothing about that statement has done anything to dissuade people from picking Michigan. The author of that piece, Ryan Bartow, is in fact the guy who was first to pull the trigger on a Michigan pick, and he remains unmoved.
Solomon says "right now I'm done" but that something could come up, because that's how this recruitment has gone. I go back to the UGA moderator who said Solomon might not even take in-homes with Saban and Smart. If that turns out to be the case Michigan fans can go into his Signing Day decision with a lot of confidence. If those guys do drop in it will be a nail-biter.
Elsewhere in five-star DTs, Lorenz has put in a crystal ball for UT DT Jay Tufele to Utah. That appears to be the consensus from both OSU and Michigan folks.
Oliver Martin will be going somewhere this weekend, or nowhere
Michigan has officially landed in Iowa City. Wolverines here for in-home visit with Oliver Martin today. pic.twitter.com/RCzEumNHi5
— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) January 17, 2017
That's how geography works. You're always in a place. You're never nowhere unless you're Michigan State and it's bowl season.
Anyway, Michigan has once again put on a full court press for IA WR Oliver Martin, who they supposedly led for until a parting of the ways a couple months ago. That parting occurred when it looked like they'd get a dozen OL along with four WRs—I think you can assume that GA WR Nico Collins was a silent commit given the pattern here—and could not afford the space for a fifth. Martin is reputedly a Harbaugh fave-rave so the only reason they'd back off is if they thought they had no room.
With Collins now much more in play than previously thought and spots seemingly available, heeeere's Oliver again. Lorenz and Isaiah Hole flipped their crystal balls back to Michigan once pursuit was re-engaged in earnest, and Wiltfong might not be far behind. Lorenz:
I was around him all week at the Army game in San Antonio and there's definitely a bond between he and quarterback commitment Dylan McCaffrey. I also believe Martin would already be committed to the staff if they had the room earlier in the process.
Martin has a couple of officials left, one of which can be to Ann Arbor since his October visit was an unofficial. Depending on which article you read you'll discover that he's headed to Gainesville, Ann Arbor, dunno, or nowhere (because he has a swim meet on Saturday). An official to Ann Arbor is probably game over for the other chasers, but it sounds like the Martins might shut it down and just take some in-homes.
The Becton Oversight
mean mug grade: A-
I've neglected to mention anything about VA OL Mekhi Becton the last couple times. This was solely because I didn't have any Becton tabs. Lorenz reports that confidence is still strong on Michigan's end and that the academic angle is important to him. That passes the smell test since Becton was reputed to be a strong Virginia lean for a while. Wiltfong, however, is hearing differently:
247Sports was told last weekend that it could be a Louisville-Hokies battle for Becton who is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia among others. There’s confidence around the Hokies program the 6-foot-7, 345-pound Becton will end up at VT.
The UVA 247 site meanwhile says that sources at his high school are "still adamant that Becton should be considered a heavy UVa lean."
Aaand this appears to be a direct quote of a text from a UL commit that the Louisville site may have published a bit unwisely:
“Becton (didn’t) talk much but is debating between Michigan and us, which is pretty dumb with early playing time at Louisville but he doesn't follow me back.”
I have news for this young gentleman about the state of Michigan's 2017 offensive line.
Further complicating matters: Becton has a VT visit this weekend and Oregon the week after. So that's four schools with insiders swearing up and down that they lead with Oregon lurking on the perimeter. Anything could happen.
Elsewhere in OL news, Lorenz reports that while PA OL CJ Thorpe will official this weekend it would be an "absolute stunner" if he flipped his commitment.
Weird Guy Watch
Rivals projects VA LB Ellis Brooks to Maryland, but mostly because they have to project him somewhere. Their certainty level is low indeed. 24/7 latest update on him states that the last-weekend visit is now up in the air between Michigan and Penn State.
Clemson OT transfer Jake Fruhmorgen has a narrow list of Michigan, LSU, and Florida. Sam caught up with his dad, who apparently reads PFF:
(Jake can) get a redshirt, and good strong year (training) will put him in a strong position to compete at LSU. And they ranked #1 in college last year as a unit.
The only site out there ranking OL units is PFF. Anyway. Florida just lost their OL coach and Fruhmorgen and father have put great emphasis on position coaching in their decision, so they are likely behind the eight ball a bit. Drevno has tried to get in touch, so Michigan appears set to pursue Fruhmorgen in earnest.
Isaiah Hole talks to 4* PA DE commit Donovan Jeter's coach about what he brings:
"Size and ability. I think the biggest thing out there, from a recruiting standpoint, is that they're looking for kids with size and they're looking for kids that can move. Donovan certainly possesses those intangibles. We saw a motor and an explosiveness from him in his stance"
Scout's John Garcia Jr clarifies that TN QB Jackson Gibbs is a PWO candidate at a few different schools and will be picking between M, Alabama, and UCLA. Reports a few months ago that he had gotten a bonafide offer never made any sense, anyway.
Michigan's top 2018 QB target, NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, told Maize n Brew that the Fisch move was a big deal for him:
“That’s a huge get,” he said, regarding UCLA hiring Fisch. “It’s going to be tough for schools to beat out UCLA for me making my decision.”
That would be a bummer. I'd love to see what a dual-threat can do with Harbaugh.
Various other 2018 names:
- 4* TX CB D'Shawn Jamison (doesn't know anything about M, vaguely plans visit),
- 5* NC DE KJ Henry ("definitely" plans a visit),
- 5* FL DT Taron Vincent (IMG kid, formerly a protege of Biff Poggi, says M is outside his top 3 of OSU, Bama, and FSU),
- 4* NJ WR Jahan Dotson (top ten, has been on an unofficial, knows Singleton fairly well),
- 4* MO WR Kamryn Babb (M "absolutely" a factor per Trieu after recent offer)
Nick Saban is dropping out of helicopters on FL TE Will Mallory.
— T.CallahanFoundation (@TC22Foundation) January 18, 2017
That shouldn't matter since his dad and both uncles played at M.
I will deign to mention that Michigan has offered 2019 MN OT Quinn Carroll, who looks to have the profile of a top 100 guy so far. There are a couple of big-timers instate as well as OH OL Nolan Rumler, as well.
Offseason Harbaugh is a go
The long desert before football season resumes is among us, so it's time for Jim Harbaugh Antics to provide us succor. Here he is with a small child in a tiger-themed go-kart:
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 17, 2017
Yeah, that's the stuff.
As Webb mentions above, this was part of Harbaugh's in-home visit with 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. It appears to have gone well:
“Just finished such an awesome in home visit where we bowled, raced cars & finished a pre-k project celebrating 100 days of school for Lee County Pre-K, Solomon’s mother Sabrina Caldwell told The Michigan Insider. “He brought his daughter and it was the best visit ever.”
Or very well:
That's what 247Sports was told Tuesday morning.
Yep, Harbaugh brought his daughter on a recruiting visit, which is no doubt causing the inmates of the RCMB to splutter in impotent rage. (Also targets of their impotent rage: women, people who don't drink Faygo, algebra.) Webb says he doesn't have a gut feeling on Solomon, but that he fits many of the criteria. It's usually a good sign when Webb starts getting a ton from the parents.
A couple of 247 guys have joined Barton Simmons with Michigan predictions, and they're both guys covering UGA. Both flipped from Alabama predictions, and while opinion on Solomon has blown like the wind since his decommit there's not much time for things to swing back—Solomon now says he's done with visits after he heads out to USC. Rusty Mansell, one of the Georgia guys who CBed Solomon to Michigan, is hearing that Nick Saban and Kirby Smart might not even get in-homes. That would be game over.
Solomon is obviously the top target left on Michigan's board and would almost certainly be in the two deep as a freshman; as the First Look post from last week noted, Michigan's interior line depth is nonexistent.
The other major targets
Georgia is buzzing for 4* AL WR Nico Collins, which would be deeply irritating after they swooped on Isaiah Wilson out of nowhere. At least Alabama is "no longer considered a factor" for Collins, per Lorenz. Webb says it's "become more of a toss up" since Fisch departed; Pep Hamilton will have to build a relationship in a short period of time. He still gives Michigan the edge.
Wiltfong reports that Michigan is getting back in the game with IA WR Oliver Martin, who most were projecting in this class until Brad Hawkins suddenly re-emerged. Martin has two officials left and Michigan could get one of them—his October visit was an unofficial. Wiltfong is still riding with ND.
4.5* MS LB Willie Gay fielded an in-home visit from Chris Partridge on Thursday that didn't generate much content in the aftermath. Mississippi State firing its defensive coordinator probably doesn't help the Bulldogs, but LSU is looming.
Lorenz reports that *4.5 UT DT Jay Tufele is now expected by most to stick close to home. Michigan isn't expecting much there.
Wobblers still wobbling
4* FL OL commit Kai-Leon Herbert took a visit to Auburn this weekend, and had a very crootin' quote in the aftermath:
"I'm definitely going to commit before National Singing Day or re-afffirm my commitment if I happen to choose Michigan," Herbert said. "I'm not that guy who does the hats."
Herbert is more of a Walking Dead parody video kind of guy. Herbert's commit is obviously butter soft at this point, potentially opening the door for Thorpe. Lorenz reports that Michigan is going to try to solidify him with an in-home after he visits Miami and UF the next two weekends; he doesn't see it happening.
4* NM RB commit O'Maury Samuels is the recruit most affected by Ty Wheatley's departure and has been somewhat soft for several months now. Michigan has an official remaining, which is good, and Sameul's father told Webb that there's only one other school in contention:
“I think (Arizona is the only other school being considered). I think he narrowed it down to Michigan and Arizona. There were other schools, but it’s Michigan and Arizona. If I had to bet on it.”
Much easier fending off one school, especially one coming off a tough year, than a full-court press from most of the SEC. Webb says it's "not a slam dunk"; Isaiah Hole reported that Samuels is "fully expected to qualify and to be part of the class."
2.5* GA RB commit Kurt Taylor landed a Michigan State offer and says he'll officially visit MSU on the 27th.
Weird guys watch
Happy trails to 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian, who abruptly cancelled his upcoming visit and is now set to stick with BC. Brice Marich says it was a "mutual" decision—unlikely. This is made even weirder by another weird thing: 4* ND commit Elijah Hicks decommitted from ND... so he could immediately enroll at Cal, which did not have a head coach at that juncture.
Michigan now has zero realistic targets* at defensive back. Reports that Michigan is getting back in with IA WR Oliver Martin may not be entirely Collins related; it's possible the fifth DB is going to be a wide receiver they convert, probably NJ WR Brad Hawkins.
*[Definition of "realistic target": someone who has been on campus or scheduled a visit.]
4* VA LB Ellis Brooks tells Rivals he will "probably" take a visit next weekend; he's currently at LSU and Oregon is on the docket this weekend. Michigan bumped ND, so there's that. Brooks is a big dude at 240; any Michigan pursuit should not be interpreted as pessimism regarding Gay. Brooks just took an official to Northwestern, so he's got a super weird top five: NW, Oregon, LSU, Michigan, and Maryland.
A couple of OL prospects now seem like somewhat reasonable possibilities. Bradon Justice reports that 4* PA OL CJ Thorpe will take an official next week. This space has mentioned Thorpe in passing after Michigan started poking around, but this is is the first indication this pursuit is anything serious. Thorpe is a legacy—thus that quote from his dad about how Urban Meyer can't recruit him—but a late January visit is always a threat.
Clemson OL Jake Fruhmorgen is transferring; Michigan and Florida are the schools most prominently mentioned for him at this early stage. Fruhmorgen played in 11 games as a true freshman and started the first eight games of Clemson's national championship season before getting knocked out with a shoulder injury. PFF reports that he didn't grade out well, but he's a true sophomore who has eight starts; probably some potential there.
Lorenz reports that Michigan is interested enough to check him out; in his opinion Michigan was second for Fruhmorgen during his initial recruitment. He'd have to sit out next year and then would have two to play; if Michigan has some extra spots, as it looks like they might, Fruhmorgen would be an opportunity to patch some holes in the upperclass OL.
Finally, Marich reports that Michigan has been in contact with 4* TN RB Cordarrian Richardson, a Clemson decommit. Jay Harbaugh is going to make an in-home with him, no doubt in the hopes of securing an official from him. Richardson has just three crystal balls, two of which are foggy—this is a potential Alpaca Out Of Nowhere recruitment if things go well.
Rivals finalizes top 100
Ruiz is the top rated center in a minute
The post-All Star rankings are generally the last ones, and Rivals is first out of the gate with a finalized top 100. Michigan commits:
- #12 Donovan Peoples-Jones
- #26 Jordan Anthony
- #41 Cesar Ruiz (up from 77)
- #52 Drew Singleton
- #74 Luiji Vilain (up from 181)
- #76 Tarik Black
Dylan McCaffrey was the only dropper; he's now outside the top 100 after being #52. TTB points out that everyone except McCaffrey took big upward leaps since the initial Rivals 100 for this class, so maybe not so much with the tinfoil hats this year.
User Indonacious collected relevant scouting. On Ruiz:
“The rare polished high school center, Ruiz is a natural fit for the position. He shined at this year's Under Armour All-America Game, where he displayed impressive extension and solid power. The fact that he's spent his high school career snapping the ball from the center spot is a bonus for Michigan, which could use him at both guard and center early in his time in Ann Arbor.” – Rob Cassidy, Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst
“Vilain will be a great pass rusher at Michigan, but at the Under Armour All-America Game he showed that he's not a one-trick pony. He played with more power than ever before and had lots of success in practices. Vilain's presence in the backfield during the game showed he will have success against elite competition.” - Friedman
Lorenz reports that Michigan is really high on OH DT commit James Hudson. Same.
Names to keep an eye out for:
- NY TE Jeremy Ruckert, who has already been on campus and has a reputed top three of OSU, Michigan, and Alabama.
- TX TE Malcolm Epps, an Alabama commit who is "strongly considering" Michigan and OSU.
- NJ TE Elijah McAllister, who is still waiting on an offer, says he's got Michigan fans in his family.
- FL RB Chris Curry, who just got an offer.
- FL OL Curtis Dunlap, an IMG kid who says he wants to play with Jordan Anthony and Cesar Ruiz.
- FL OL Richard Gouraige, who Michigan is visiting during every evaluation period.
- GA OL Jamaree Salyer, who is almost named "Jamboree Slayer." In things that are actually relevant, he plans a spring visit.
- FL CB Asante Samuel, who has Michigan in his top six. Yes, he is the son of that Asante Samuel.
- GA CB Kyler McMichael, who has been on campus already. Florida is the early favorite.
Michigan will be heavy after tight ends in 2018 after taking a pass on the position this year.
Happy trails, #1
let's keep O'Maury Samuels plz
By now I don't have to tell you that 5* CA RB Najee Harris stuck with Alabama after the world's highest low-profile recruitment. While it would have been real nice to get the #1 recruit in the country in back-to-back years, Michigan is well stocked at running back for the next few years with Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and redshirt freshmen Kareem Walker and Kingston Davis already on campus.
Losing AJ Dillon stings a bit more now; getting the slightly wobbly O'Maury Samuels to cease wobbling is a January key.
Ultimate crootin' comes to Aubrey Solomon
5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon arrived at the Army game proclaiming that Alabama had a "huge" lead; later he popped up on Periscope saying things that you usually read on people's shirts at away games. (Especially Illinois, for reasons that remain obscure.) Thus ended Michigan's long, strange recruitment of—
Er. That is a Ryan Bartow crystal ball in favor of Michigan entered on the seventh, which he explained thusly:
Per a source, Solomon reached out to his high school staff following the bowl game in San Antonio indicating he’s planning to commit to the Wolverines.
Solomon, per a source, indicated a similar message to Michigan’s staff later in the evening.
Bartow is a national 247 guy with the excellent track record you can see above. Most recently he was ahead of the curve on Isaiah Wilson's late shift to Georgia.
More detail? Sam Webb has extensive interviews with Solomon and his mother after The Periscope Event. Solomon himself was contrite...
“(Michigan is) one of my top schools,” he replied. “Bama is top, but Michigan is up there with Georgia too. So you never know.”
...and said that an upcoming official to USC was the last trip he'd take. Solomon's mother, meanwhile, has seemingly memorized everything about the official she and her son took this fall, and lists an If Momma Decided top three of Michigan, Georgia Tech(!), and Alabama. Lorenz, meanwhile, reports that he's been told Michigan "truly made progress" with Mrs. Caldwell on the official, which the interview confirms. Also that certain people in his camp aren't big fans of Alabama.
Extensive parental interviews with Sam are a good thing. So are Serious 247 Analyst crystal balls. Offsetting that good thing are some less than good things, but if you told me I'd be fairly optimistic about landing Solomon after last week I'd take that and run.
The stretch run
With the Army decisions out of the way, Michigan has 25 solid commits and approximately seven spots left in the class. The situation for everyone who's still on the board, has an offer, and has bothered to visit or schedule one:
- NM RB O'Maury Samuels is scheduled for a mid-January official. If that comes off it's likely he sticks in the class. No other visits scheduled at this instant. WAG: 90% to stick.
- UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund has said he'll take an official sometime this month. He's said he'll official for months now and hasn't; he's definitely a Harbaugh guy. WAG: 2%.
- GA WR Nico Collins has had Michigan at the top of his recruitment for months now, and visited on his own dime repeatedly. That's a recipe for getting a bit talent out of the South but Michigan has to dodge some officials. Wiltfong heard from a "source close to Clay-Chalkville" that Georgia is Michigan's biggest competition and that that source "thinks" it will eventually be UGA. That would be a kick in the nuts, not least because... (WAG: 50%)
- ...IA WR Oliver Martin isn't mentioning Michigan any more in interviews, seemingly because Michigan ceased their pursuit. Webb and Lorenz were predicting Michigan removing itself before articles like the above started popping up, so that's probably what happened here. That only makes sense if they're extremely confident in Collins. We'll see. Martin only has one official set in January, that to MSU. Michigan could pop back up here. WAG: 10%
- FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert has officials set up to Auburn, Miami, and Florida. He's been circumspect in interviews to the point where he doesn't seem like a commit, and Michigan's already had their shot. WAG: 30%.
- FL OL/DT Tedarrell Slaton has named Florida his leader and Michigan is drifting away. Slaton told Josh Newkirk that he talks to Michigan "sometimes." He's been on campus but without a 180 this isn't happening; step one in that process is scheduling a January official. WAG: 0% without official, 30% with one.
- GA DT Aubrey Solomon was extensively discussed above. WAG: lol don't even ask.
- UT DT Jay Tufele is one of those guys who nobody has a good read on. He recently asserted to Scout that location doesn't matter, which means "recruit has been asked about location and given the standard answer." WAG: 33%.
- MS LB Willie Gay may or may not have been screwin' around when he said he was headed to LSU; buzz there is "real" per Lorenz, but Michigan thinks they're very much in it. Per Sam, mom and aunt—who were with him on his official—are in Michigan's corner and pushing. Playing time seems to be key. Gay told Lorenz that it was "50/50" he would take an unofficial to Michigan in January. That would echo Rashan Gary and make everyone feel much better that one-time Michigan lead was going to stick. WAG: 40%.
- CT CB Brandon Sebastian will take an official in January and a flip is on the table. WAG: 80%.
- CA CB Elijah Hicks is going to stick with ND, I guess? Because Brian Kelly seems like a good idea right now? WAG: 10%.
I project 3 or 4 weird guy spots available.
Army bowl scouting
MI CB Ambry Thomas popped up periodically. He made Scout's East top five on Day two largely because he was able to contend with Peoples-Jones and "his length and speed makes him a tough defender for receivers to separate from."
Donovan Peoples-Jones vs. Jeff Okudah pic.twitter.com/TkY8g8OzKi
— EJ Holland (@EJHolland247) January 3, 2017
MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones "explodes off the ball" per Brandon Brown—I haven't seen much national scouting from Rivals yet—and beat UGA commit Richard LeCounte deep because he had "no chance of running with Peoples-Jones." Scout put him in a top five because he "regularly showed the ability to stretch the field vertically." Lorenz reported that he "did what he was supposed to do" to maintain his spot as the #1 WR on the composite.
CT WR Tarik Black "flashed a bunch" per 247 and made the East top 5 on Scout because he's a "smooth athlete with a big catch radius" who "really stood out in a strong receiver group." Brown reported that he is the "most consistently effective receiver" on his team because he's not just a big body:
His ability to quickly get downfield at the snap allowed him to easily eat up the cushion of the East cornerbacks, who spent much of the day playing off coverage. Black showed off an advanced understanding of how to use his stem and body movements to manipulate defenders. ...
What was most impressive during today’s practice was Black’s speed, which does not show up on film as well as it did during today’s practice. Black was able to run by several defenders on vertical routes, often gaining several steps on corners. He made a number of impressive plays, but one of his best was blowing past Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech cornerback Donovan Johnson on a go route.
We've been talking about how fast Johnson is for a couple months here, usually when we're wondering why MSU didn't bother offering him. For a 6'4" guy to blow by him is maybe a bit of a fluke but also impressive. Sam thought he was "the revelation" for Michigan fans at the Army game; Lorenz thought he was "really good" and had an argument to move up.
Part two of Filiaga/Irving-Bey pic.twitter.com/Fbq9nxW7w5
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) January 3, 2017
MI DT Deron Irving-Bey didn't come in for much notice nationally; Brown noted that after some early success against an ND commit Irving-Bey started to get predictable and lose reps. He was playing end, which I don't think is going to be his spot at Michigan. One dollar says he's a three tech, and his performance there is in "ask again later" territory. OTOH, he nearly earned a starting spot on his team per Sam because of his "speed off the edge."
for some reason this picture makes me think Willie Gay is in a Coen brothers movie
In guys we hope are future commits, Solomon was praised for a "twitchy first step" and his strength by 247; after day one they named him the #2 guy on his team since he "split double teams with ease ... showing elite quickness and high energy." Scout talked up his "excellent get-off and close-quarters quickness".
Tufele was also one of the most-praised defensive linemen. 247: "the one defensive lineman that can beat you with quickness and power ... consistently the toughest West defender to slow down." A top performers take: "great quickness in interior one-on-ones and he shows big-time power in defeating run blocks." Scout: "most dominant interior defensive lineman in practice ... step is as quick as any one in this class and his got great strength to push his blockers off the ball."
Gay was named the "best pass game linebacker" by 247 because he's a "flash to the football" and is "the perfect nickel linebacker." In another of those top performers articles they asserted he is "maybe the most athletic linebacker in the country." A third 247 take: "outstanding first-move twitch, very fluid, great speed, rangy, has courage to stick his nose in against the run, made plays in the alley, was sound in drills, performed like a five-star." Lorenz further hinted he would get that bump in an Inside Michigan Recruiting.
Brandon Brown talked with a Detroit King coach about Cass star and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who sounds like another one of those hybrid types that are so critical for defending the spread:
"He’s ferocious against the run and can really tackle but he’s really good in coverage too. He’s a really strong kid. It’s great when you can have a guy who can cover in man, play in the zone, and tackle in the box and Kelly-Powell is that guy. Even at a place like Michigan he should be able to stay on the field all the time."
Cass's coaches confirmed that coverage take when they matched JKP up on one Ambry Thomas in the city championship game:
"...we didn’t think he was going to be on Ambry. He did a good job on Bry and that’s tough to do. We were looking at him as a true safety but they did a good job switching that up and putting him on Bry like that."
There's talk that Kelly-Powell will be given a look at VIPER(!!!) as Michigan seeks to maintain the flexibility Peppers offered the 2016 defense. Willie Gay is the ideal fit there, but Michigan has some options if he ends up in the South.
Allen Trieu had a Q&A session which is worth the trip behind the paywall. This is the opinion I liked the most because I happen to agree with it:
Of the current commits, in your opinion, who in 4 years do Michigan fans look back at and say "wow he was undervalued coming in".
James Hudson recently earned a fourth star, but I could see that kid really blossoming further in college and out-performing his ranking. We ranked Taco Charlton somewhat cautiously as a lower four-star based on his outstanding physical traits, but also his rawness. He has developed into a potential first-round pick. We are at the same point with Hudson where he really came on as a senior and has great size and ability, but still has some parts of his game to improve.
Hudson's senior film is Willie Henry-esque. Dude is crazy strong and explosive. Might take a year; afterwards, look out.
Scout evaluated PA DE/DT Donovan Jeter's senior film and made him sound a bit like Ryan Glasgow:
...quick with his hands, and he uses several moves instead of just relying on his physical ability to overwhelm his opponent. ...gets up the field well from the defensive end position. He uses a swim move and also will club the offensive lineman. He also has a spin move, and he will use strength, led by a solid initial punch. ... body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.
Three-tech is all set in this class and Michigan can turn one of Jeter, DIB, or Hudson into a nose if that turns out to be necessary. Having a pure NT like Tufele or Solomon is the one way they can seriously upgrade in January.
FWIW, I had MI DT Phil Paea and NJ WR Brad Hawkins listed as early enrollees. Per Isaiah Hole those guys aren't actually EEs. Everyone else expected to arrive has done so.
In "Aubrey Solomon does something that is not surprising": he praises 2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese, a teammate, as "the best in the country."
Michigan is recruiting 2018 TX TE Malcolm Epps, a Bama commit. Hooray!
Brian is out sick so this is my first shot at one of these. I’m not as plugged in as the other guys so if I missed something important leave it in the comments. Mostly this is going to be Army Game practice stuff.
No Blind Siding
Michigan target Chuck Filiaga, with normal-sized humans [U.S. Army All-American Bowl, via USA Today]
Let’s start with the good news: Crystal balls to Michigan are still flying in for 4* TX OT Chuck Filiaga, who’s a 6’6/335 pound shot at a starting left tackle that Michigan desperately needs. Filiaga will be at right tackle during the Army Game because his team is full of LTs. His decision, between Michigan, Oklahoma, and Nebraska is scheduled for noon.
Even if Filiaga enters the fold, Michigan is not done recruiting potential tackles. Next likeliest target, 3* OT Mekhi Becton, told Maize and Brew that Michigan remains “definitely high on my list.” Michigan also make the top three for AL 3* OT Toryque Bateman, though grades and the likelihood of other commits coming/sticking makes that seem unlikely now.
Obligatory Najee Section: We are linebackers
You have been a good recruiting follower so you’ve so far managed to refrain from watching the parade of ankleless linebackers following 5* CA RB Najee Harris to various endzones. The recruiting industry is finding him just as slippery. We are now officially past the Flight Aware segment of the recruitment and on to Flight Plan Aware. 247’s Bart Simmons first wrote yesterday that Army Bowl people said they’re flying Harris back home after the game, but then said a source told him Harris had requested a change to the wrong Birmingham:
Per a source, Harris has requested a flight change — asking to land in Birmingham now, instead of back home in California (Oakland). That would put the running back on Alabama's campus by Sunday evening at the latest as an early-enrollee, ending a dizzying back-and-forth between Alabama and Michigan that's worn on for months.
I maintain that you should ignore virtually everything until Harris is literally on campus at one school or the other on Monday, since that is quite apparently his preferred method of announcement. Bama people seem confident, Michigan people seem confident. Rivals had their national analysts weigh in, with votes going 2-1 in favor of the Tide. Harris has denied everything. Look closely at anyone new in your freshman seminar Monday.
Willie Being Silly?
The last round of interviews from San Antonio with MS 4* OLB Willie Gay have convinced reporters that LSU now leads Michigan and Mississippi State for what would be the first life form to ever escape “the Sip.” For their part LSU is taking Gay’s sudden interest very seriously, with Tigers linebacker commit Patrick Queen rescheduling his official to coincide with Gay’s. Sam Webb confirmed that LSU is the stated leader…
"Really all of my schools are even. LSU has probably got a little bit high, a little bit. I don't know where I'm going to go yet but LSU has moved up a little bit higher."
…but reported that Gay’s family is still heavily favoring Michigan, and this doesn’t sound like someone who’s moved on:
"They didn't move down,” he said. “When I went to Michigan it was like, perfect. Everything I ever wanted in a school… academics, I feel like I was at home still (and) the weather wasn't that bad to me. I was cool with the cold weather. I loved it."
Gay called the report that LSU leads “kind of accurate.” Call me a homer but I think this one has a lot of elements of a guy who’s messing with reporters. Michigan does still have to weather an official visit to down-the-street Mississippi State in addition to that to LSU on the 20th. I doubt it’s done.
Wille a Will? Possibly relevant, according to SEC Country LSU is recruiting him at WLB:
LSU is courting Gay as a WILL linebacker to help pad the team’s depth at a crucial position.
If you remember your Wisconsin previews, Aranda’s 3-4 has a WILL that’s a second middle linebacker—think Mike McCray’s job—so no they’re not trying to make him Vince Biegel, but neither are they calling him a slot overhang guy. Michigan has made it clear he would play the multifarious Peppers SAM spot.
Possibly unrelatedly, this got tweeted:
Y'all gotta think... a kid will press one school to then choose the other for the surprise ... just think
— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) January 5, 2017
Big Nose Tackle Options are Shrinking
You would think if there is only one word in the English language that an uncommitted prospect can put before “Michigan” to erase any doubt about his intentions, it’s “F---.” Well, 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon dropped just that particular bomb this week in a Periscope to fellow former Michigan commit WR Jeremiah Holloman (now a 4* UGA commit). A day later Solomon apologized on twitter to Michigan fans.
So: we’re done? Not quite. Sam said on his segment today that Michigan is still after him hard, which WTF?
I guess there are two ways to look at it: On one hand perhaps Aubrey was consoling a friend who apparently got pushed out of the class by higher-rated receivers. The other way to look at it is “What is literally the last thing you want to hear from a guy Michigan is recruiting?”. The likelihood of Option B is the likelihood this is officially happy trails. If you’re holding out for the sympathy words excuse, Michigan still has a lot of ground to make up.
That leaves Michigan’s hopes for a guy who can instantly spell Mone next year down to just UT 4* DT Jay Tufele. While Ohio State was a major factor earlier in this recruitment, lately the sense has been that hometown Utah has moved ahead of both Midwestern rivals. Michigan’s former director of player personnel Tony Tuioti leaving to become DL coach at Fresno State could not have helped the Wolverines’ chances. However Tufele told Sam at the Army Game practices today that at least distance won’t be a deciding factor:
“It was never a factor,” he reiterated. “For me going away or going home… it’s either one. It’s just at the end of the day it is going to be wherever best fits me… that’s where I’m going to go.”
While painting the picture of a Ryan Glasgow-like player, Sam noted the relationship with Bryan Mone. Official visits to USC and Utah loom for a now-crucial recruitment that could go a lot of ways. Scout…uh scout Brandon Huffman also chimed in on why Tufele’s a big deal:
Through the first part of the week, Tufele has been the MVP of the defense. He's yet to lose rep in the one-on-ones and when he went against the East interior offensive linemen during Tuesday's practice, he was beating them repeatedly just as he was the O-linemen for the West team. Tufele has a cat-quick first step and grown man strength. Tufele is considering BYU, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Utah.
While BYU and USC are probably placeholders, Michigan has at best as good a chance as the other two, which equals not a great chance.
At least our scouting works. Once again solid Oregon commit Rutger Reitmaier is making everybody’s lists for top performers at the Army practices. 247’s Bart Simmons’s East team update depressingly mentioned two names familiar to Michigan fans this cycle as standout defensive tackles: Reitmaier, and OG prospect Tedarrell Slaton, who’s expected to commit to Florida. Slaton was also the largest prospect in attendance, weighing in at 363 lbs.
The Sabanification of Georgia is Not a Good Development
After leading for a year for AL 4* WR Nico Collins, suddenly it appears Georgia has made it a game. Wiltfong:
A source close to Clay-Chalkville Top247 receiver Nico Collins told 247Sports this week he thinks Michigan and Georgia are on top.
He added he thinks will be the Bulldogs and not the Wolverines that ultimately sign the four-star recruit.
That would indeed be an upset of greater magnitude than turning around Isaiah Wilson, since Collins made multiple visits to Michigan on his own dime. He’ll announce on national signing day.
The Dawgs showing some bite on the recruiting trail after Kirby Smart’s first season ended 8-5 in the Liberty Bowl has caused some people in our community to wonder what’s going on down there. The answer is that it was far more extraordinary that Richt had Georgia at merely Lloyd Carr level in the Age of the SEC. Georgia is twice the recruiting ground of any other SEC state save Florida, and in-state rival GT is less of a threat than Michigan State is to us. Plus, Athens is gorgeous, admittedly as nice a town/campus as Ann Arbor; I can personally attest that their gameday atmosphere is unreal. And Georgia's not a bad school either.
I’m sure some Bama stuff is going on there, but the real reason they’re a threat to Michigan now is because Michigan has chosen to invade SEC territory and compete against the best the SEC has to offer.
Scouting Updates on Committed Recruits
Sam Webb did a feature this morning on WTKA on the Michigan guys he’s watched and spoken to down in San Antonio, and while I couldn’t get the Audioboom recording to work MGoUser ColelsCorky kindly summarized it on our board. Among tidbits in there that weren’t mentioned already, Ambry Thomas looks like an early contributor, Deron Irving-Bey is unrefined but also Young Taco-like off the edge, and Tarik Black has been a “revelation.” Huffman’s scouting report agreed on the last:
The Michigan commit has consistently made plays all week and impressed with his smooth route running for being a bigger framed kid. He has shown good, reliable hands and ball skills as well.
Sam and Josh Newkirk caught up with Black on Wednesday and asked him to name his (homer) pick for top cornerback he’s faced, which offers us a nice segue into MI 4* CB Ambry Thomas:
“I’m not being biased or anything like that cause he’s a Michigan commit. But I do think he’s the best corner out here.”
Adding: “He’s a technician, a long ranging guy and has a lot of speed. You've got to work him to get open.”
Another Michigan recruit who could challenge for early playing time, DE/DT Donovan Jeter got a new eval from Brian Dohn, and it sounds like one of those that could accompany a ratings bump:
Final Thought: Jeter offers position flexibility, which is a great thing for a staff and a player. He can be a defensive end, particularly on the weakside where he can use his length and quickness in his first two steps, or he can add weight and strength and move inside. His body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.
At 6’6/261 Jeter seems large enough to be in the mix for some standard-down spelling of Chase Winovich as a more Taco-shaped WDE, or Rashan Gary’s backup at SDE immediately. Since Gary is expected to take off some of Hurst’s load at tackle this year, the Anchor position has plenty of snaps available.
The Distant Future 2018
After talking up SEC football 6’6 NJ TE Elijah McAllister told Steve Wiltfong he grew up a Michigan fan and that Michigan has been in contact. I may have posted that just for this quote:
“I liked the SEC culture, everyone is great down South. Growing up in New Jersey, a lot of fast-moving people, not everyone is nice. Down South everyone is nice.
MGoBlog’s official Southern correspondent BiSB reports that “Bless your heart” is actually Tennesseean for “F--- you!”, but as we noted above that doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you.
Nose tackle trouble
Michigan had its sights set on three NT sorts and hoped to get two; 3.5* TN DT Rutger Reitmaier decided to stick with Oregon, and now 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon has a defined leader that is not Michigan:
“No doubt about it,” Solomon told BamaOnLine when asked if Alabama was his leader. “They stand by themselves right now. Huge lead.”
Solomon's had a tendency to change his mind during the process, but that does not sound good. It sounds... bad. This also sounds bad:
“I believe it is a huge lead and it is really I will say it is a SEC fight,” Solomon said. “That’s how I feel. It is a big SEC fight.”
Steve Lorenz caught up with him as well and that take sounds much more optimistic; there is an element of Solomon telling people what they want to here in a lot of his quotes. Publicly stating a huge Alabama lead is something that people usually do when they are going to commit to Alabama, unfortunately.
Meanwhile UT DT Jay Tufele is publicly favoring nobody and has scheduled officials to USC, BYU, and Utah in January. He is tough to read because he says everything is awesome.
Michigan: "Michigan is really awesome. When I took my trip, it's a real college town and I loved everything about it and it was awesome." ...
Ohio State: "Ohio State is a really great program.... Urban Meyer is an awesome coach too.
Lorenz says he's not near a crystal ball but that Utah would be his guess at the moment, albeit with a caveat:
the consensus among us down here is that he is a prospect who definitely hasn't made up his mind at this point.
Losing Tony Tuioti is not helpful, though Tufele dismissed that a non-coach staffer moving would have a big impact on his decision; FWIW, Scout's Bill Greene was not high on OSU's chances about a week ago.
Under Armor takes
The UA game came and went and scouting resulted.
The most impressive Michigan commit in attendance was a close race but FL OL Cesar Ruiz, who drew many mentions as an unmoveable tree trunk person, probably edged it.
— Sean Merriman (@MerrimanTweets) December 30, 2016
4* VA DE Luiji Vilain was amongst the most impressive edge guys at the game.
Luiji Vilain is better than the #10 DE in the nation in my opinion. Michigan's class is very strong.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) January 1, 2017
If you want to know who was close to about half a dozen sacks, it would be this guy. Vilain got around the corner and pressure the quarterback numerous times. He also flushed the quarterback out of the pocket and set the edge against the run a couple of times too.
Mike Farrell named him the "most pleasant surprise" at the UA game, in typical Farrell fashion:
Now how can a player ranked as a four-star and No. 181 in the country be the biggest surprise? Well, at least to me, I felt Vilain was a bit overrated and I didn’t expect he would hold up physically as he has so far this week. Vilain has been using his length well in one-on-ones and especially team play, and he’s been stronger than expected.
We'll see if that's enough for a move up. Farrell said he's "not a five star talent", but there's a lot of room between that and #181.
Michigan's other commits didn't come in for much evaluation. RI DE Kwity Paye got in through a fan vote and was tasked with some rushing drills as a DT, which is not his skillset. It doesn't look like his showing will result in a four-star surge for him; he was kind of lost in the wash. Farrell got in a brief mention ("Kwity Paye also had a few key hurries in addition to his tackle for a loss"); 247 doesn't have anything on him except some photos. Ditto FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell. (NJ LB Drew Singleton was also named to the game but is still recovering from an ACL tear.)
None of those gentlemen got mentioned as disappointments by Farrell, so they'll probably be static.
Willie Gay says things, a lot of things
Sometimes he says things that make you think he'll be at Michigan.
Peppers is a player that Gay has long said is his favorite college player. The opportunity to replace him exists, and Gay described the possibility as "surreal".
"When I first got the Michigan offer, it was huge for me," he said. "To think I could potentially replace Peppers is amazing to me."
Sometimes he does not.
“Did [LSU] have a linebacker de-commit today?” Gay asked SEC County.
“Well tell them Willie Gay is on his way.”
Asked if he was just joking, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker said, “No. I don’t mind competing but once you see opportunity like that sometimes you’ve just got to jump on it.”
Is he just screwin' around? Kind of feels like he's just screwin' around. But, eh, crootin. This is why the shruggie was invented. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sometimes he says things that nobody else has ever said before or will say again.
“When I went to Michigan I felt like I was still in Starkville, Miss.,” Gay said. “The only thing different was the weather, and even that wasn't that bad to me. I fell in love with Michigan when I went up there.”
I haven't ever been to Starkville. Maybe it has a botanical garden too?
Gay does have an official scheduled to LSU later this month. He'll probably say various things before he commits that may or may not mean anything. There's a reason that nobody pulled the trigger on a crystal ball even after Gay proclaimed Michigan a strong leader after his trip to Ann Arbor, and this is the reason. Mississippi black hole, man. Gay told Lorenz that his "mind feels like it's changing every day."
The balls roll in for Filiaga; other OL bits
For a brief moment after TX OL Chuck Filiaga announced a top three of OU, Nebraska, and Michigan there was a thought that OU was the pick. That moment seems to have passed after Filiaga arrived at the Army game and started talking to people. Steve Wiltfong, the main guy talking up Oklahoma, put in a crystal ball for Filiaga to Michigan and a bunch of people followed, including Lorenz. Lorenz interviewed Filiaga—likely the impetus for his pick—recently:
"I've had Coach Harbaugh come to my house and come to my school," he said. "He talked to our team before our game against Poteet and talked to all of us and gave us a speech. Coach Drevno came two times. He came once to be the ears for Coach Harbaugh and the second time they both came, so I think I got the OK. He really has made me a priority."
That's quite a contrast from Michigan's approach with Aaron Banks, which was "send Jay Harbaugh a couple times." Filiaga told Lorenz he "has an idea" where he's going; it appears everyone at 247 does as well. Sam Webb also got an interview in which Filiaga said he had an idea of where he was going; he re-iterated that the distance won't be an issue:
“Mom and dad… family really… they don’t mind where I go to college,” said Filiaga.
Brandon Brown is reporting that mom is on board and Michigan should get Filiaga, as well.
Two bits of circumstantial evidence:
- I haven't seen anything from OU or Nebraska writers, and that is almost always a good sign for the team whose reporters are getting interviews.
- When various 247 staff writers with no Michigan/OU/Nebraska track record put in picks they're looking for cheap CB points.
It would appear that the Filiaga commit will be low drama.
Michigan will still pursue OL even if they get Filiaga; giant VA OL Mekhi Becton now seems like Michigan's biggest priority going forward. He gave a pretty generic update to Scout. One thing of note: his only official thus far has been to Michigan. He plans on making some trips in January; those will give an indication of which schools in his top five (M, MSU, Louisville, VT, and UVA) are actual competition and which are just hats on the table.
5* AZ OL Austin Jackson told 247 that it was "kind of likely" he'd make a January official visit to Michigan. That would be his last of the process. Jackson is widely reputed to be a USC lock, get him on campus, puncher's chance, etc.
Meanwhile, 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton says that he wants to play DT and that Kentucky and Florida are his top two because they're recruiting him at that spot. He'd later name UF his outright leader. Michigan is still drawing mentions, but those feel more perfunctory by the day.
“Urban Meyer called my dad, and he told him he should stop recruiting me because it’s not going to happen,” Thorpe said. “After I got my Penn State offer, Urban called my dad and then he fell off the face of the earth. I didn’t know what happened and thought Ohio State was just not offering me, but I talked to my dad a year after the call, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I told him he can’t recruit you.’”
Thorpe's dad was a PSU football player.
Weird guy watch
As mentioned in the previous roundup, Michigan's rapid-fire commit burst leaves them with few players on the board who seem likely to join the class. They're at 26, can take up to 32, and will probably suffer a decommit or two because this is crootin'.
Meanwhile things appear to be trending in the wrong direction for the most familiar names on the board. The DTs were discussed above. Sam relays that optimism on Elijah Hicks has "faded dramatically"; Slaton's barely on the board. So Michigan's going to have some spots to fill.
One is obvious: CT CB Brandon Sebastian, a BC commit, appears to be the next man up as Michigan searches for a fifth DB in the class. His official was pushed back; Marich reports it is back on for the 13th. Sebastian's a teammate of Tarik Black and will have his parents on the visit. That's spatula city, baby, as the weirdly heated BC-Michigan decommit battle of 2016 rages on.
If it looks like Gay is going to end up somewhere else, keep an eye on 4* VA LB Ellis Brooks. Brooks has already been on campus twice and tells Brandon Brown that Michigan is a definite possibility for a January official:
"That last official visit is very potentially for Michigan. I’ve been talking with Coach [Don] Brown seeing how things are going. Coach Brown is my man and Coach [Chris] Partridge is my man. I really like both of those guys a lot. I know they like me as a player and also as a kid. I have a really solid relationship with both of them. It’s cool with them."
Brooks is a high-academic kid who's more of an ILB type, whereas Gay can play the VIPER(!!!) position that Peppers manned this year. The fit is thus maybe not great, but if Jordan Anthony is a potential VIPER(!!!) it could work out.
Rivals currently has MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a nondescript three-star but their most recent piece on him projects that he "will absolutely begin to travel up the Rivals rankings and should be a Top 250 if not a Top 100 guy when it's over"; he's a Michigan legacy.
TX TE Mustapha Muhammad doesn't even have a top ten yet, but Michigan will be in it. If he sticks to his desire to play in a pro-style offense he'll be leaving the state. 2018 GA S Myles Sims is another name to watch.
With the commitments of FL C Cesar Ruiz and MI DE Deron Irving-Bey Michigan has picked up four touted recruits in the past week. Do not be deceived. Just when you think you can poke your head out of the foxhole without getting conked by a four-star recruit, here come some linebackers. FL LB Jordan Anthony announces Thursday and there are rumors that NJ LB Drew Singleton may announce in the near future. In both recruitments it is unclear who is currently running second.
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy coach Kevin Wright saw Cesar Ruiz’s finger as he ran to the sideline and it was bent sideways.
For the first time in two years, Wright thought the nation’s No. 1 center recruit per 247Sports would have to sit for a snap or two.
Ruiz had other plans.
A trainer popped Ruiz's finger back into place in the 2016 season finale, and the blue-chip recruit hustled back on the field to finish out IMG’s 16-6 victory over Bishop Sullivan Catholic.
Ruiz is naturally described as a "warrior". Scout's more in-depth take on Ruiz:
...true center prospect with a lot of experience and the ability to play early on the next level. He checks a lot of boxes when going down the list on prospects at his position. He has a great frame. He is very strong. His punch is a real asset. He has shown the ability to get to the second level. He is very smart. He has great awareness. He likes to compete and finish. Michigan is getting one of the top offensive linemen in the country and Ruiz will give the Wolverines an anchor in the middle in the years to come.
TTB gave Ruiz a 99(!), which I don't think I've seen before from Magnus:
Ruiz also does a very good job of staying low out of his stance, and he moves his feet well to down block or reach block defenders to either side of him. IMG Academy plays a rather difficult schedule, so he’s playing some of the best competition in the country, and he’s having success. As a pass blocker, he anchors well without getting driven into the backfield, and his low center of gravity makes him a good match for any really technical nose tackles who try to use leverage.
Ruiz is unique amongst Michigan center prospects in recent memory in that he actually plays the position in high school. Most college-level OL end up at left tackle for obvious reasons; Ruiz was afforded the ability to play center since he's surrounded by fellow college-level OL at IMG.
That gives Ruiz a shot at playing early—even very early—at a spot that usually sees a veteran deployed to make the call. ESPN says he can "at least" make the two deep as a freshman, and Sam broached the idea he could play in year one if Speight was able to make the line calls a la Andrew Luck. In a normal year there's no way he starts, but with the rather looming hole at tackle and Cole's ability to play there you might see some odd things.
per @NaptownJazz12, we have a successor to the Ludicrously Oversized Ben Braden photo
Meanwhile, Irving-Bey is an interesting prospect who came from nowhere to be a near-unanimous four star (Rivals is the outlier). The MSU spin that Irving-Bey isn't much of a loss because of an indifferent senior season has nothing backing it. 247 just moved him up about 100 spots—I did not see an explanation as to why, but it happened just a couple weeks ago, so "senior film evaluated" is the most likely explanation. Meanwhile Trieu specifically debunks the spin:
...has turned in two dominant seasons at Flint Southwestern. That is not always against the best competition, but it evens out as he has not always been on the best team either. Even in situations where his team has been down in games, he gives consistent effort and shows motor.
Trieu thinks he's a bit raw but that some folks are exaggerating just how much, FWIW. In the same article, Sam Webb says he's "quick twitch" and uses Maurice Hurst as a comparison. Isaiah Hole caught up with his coach and you can see a bit of Hurst in his description as well:
"He's a kid that plays well with his hands. He's good on either side of the ball -- offense or defense. He's a kid that's very explosive. He comes off the ball pretty fast. He had to be a two-way player for us this year, so he's got good stamina. Able to go the distance. Those are the things I like most about him. He's able to shed offensive guys pretty quick. He plays a lot on the other side of the ball, meaning he has a lot of tackles for loss."
possesses very good first-step quickness and can be disruptive presence. With a quick first-step he can develop into a handful as a pass rusher, though needs to better use his hands and refine his arsenal.
Interestingly, Irving-Bey has the longest arms of anyone in the class, which would help him either at DE if he sticks there or OT if that's the way it works out. (Given the OL class, it probably won't.)
Touch The Banner is not so much about Irving-Bey:
Irving-Bey isn’t particularly athletic or physical, and he does not play with a non-stop motor that might overcome other deficiencies. He reminds me of Columbus (OH) St. Francis DeSales defensive lineman Chris Rock from the class of 2011.
That is pretty harsh.
Also commit aftermath
this is a very silly picture
I also have some tabs about 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones open that I'm sure you'll enjoy. Steve Lorenz:
Michigan is getting about as sure a star prospect as you will see at the high school level. Immense athleticism, but he's somebody who worked hard in the weight room and bulked up too to match his physical stature with that athleticism. A true instant impact prospect who not just could, but should be a guy who will see the field and make plays from day one in Ann Arbor.
He has great ball skills. He can make acrobatic catches and has good overall athleticism and body control. As a route-runner, he can still be polished. At Cass, he ran a lot of go-routes and screens which allowed him to use his run after the catch ability, but he still has room to grow and get better which should be exciting for Michigan fans given his talent.
Peoples-Jones has tremendous length and range to be an acrobatic playmaker when the ball is in the air. He brings the height and arm length that coaches covet, but he moves like a smaller receiver with the ball in his hands. He can accelerate, tempo his routes, and take the top off the defense with a combination of size and speed.
FWIW, I went over the last three years of WR recruits. Amongst the top five guys in the country there were 4 players I would describe as immediate stars: Christian Kirk (A&M), KD Cannon (Baylor), Demetris Robinson (Cal), and Cameron Ridley (Alabama). There were a couple other guys who got 20 or so catches and Speedy Noil, who got 43 on what I assume were a bunch of screens. It's not easy for a WR to be an instant star.
DPJ probably needs a year to polish up his routes. As Ace mentioned in the Hello post, Cass mostly sends him deep and cackles at the results.
Obligatory Najee section
There is no announcement scheduled for 5* CA RB Najee Harris and there may not be one. Scout's John Garcia Jr:
A separate source near him says he's not expecting a formal announcement or anything in terms of his final decision, whether it's been made or not. It goes along with Najee's personality, as he may not sign any FAAs and simply enroll somewhere in three weeks. That would be the most Najee thing ever in terms of ending the process.
I wouldn't believe anything you hear about a date unless it comes from an established reporter. Also in this vein: I have seen some Najee threads around the internet that talk about his latest follows being Michigan players. Najee Harris does not have a twitter account, so nope.
In terms of actual news, there is none. The closest to it are rumblings that Cal or Florida might hire Tosh Lupoi, Harris's primary recruiter, as their defensive coordinator. This would obviously be very good for Michigan. When Harris talks about his recruitment, he mostly talks about Jim Harbaugh and Tosh Lupoi.
Getting to 32: maybe, maybe not
We've been projecting a 32-man class since the season started, but that might be difficult to pull off without some weird guys showing up. Michigan has 24 commits. We have 12 guys listed in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board, and we're not sure if IA WR Oliver Martin and FL OG Tedarrell Slaton are takes right now. Let's assume Michigan holds out for AL WR Nico Collins, leading Martin to commit elsewhere, and Slaton's testing doesn't go sufficiently well to get Michigan back in the game; let us further assume that both of those upcoming LB announcements go well.
To hit 32 without going off the board Michigan would have to get six of the following eight recruits: Harris, Collins, TX OT Chuck Filiaga, VA OT Mekhi Becton, UT DT Jay Tufele, AL DT Aubrey Solomon, MS LB Willie Gay, and CA CB Elijah Hicks. And that's without any decommits.
Possible. Maybe not probable, and with Michigan's board so restricted right now it's hard to see where a potential hole gets filled. There's nobody outside of the aforementioned 12 who seems at all likely at this instant. Now, you may recall Michigan's recruitment of Nick Eubanks last year, which went like this:
- Nick Eubanks is on campus
- who is Nick Eu—
- he committed
- <furious googling>
But those are uncommon. Weird guys who pop up late have usually been on the radar at least somewhat.
A listing of potential weird guys
I do have a few names in this category:
- 4* AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao. Currently ticketed to Washington by the Crystal Ball, Pola-Mao is a ninja type who could follow the Eubanks script. Hyphenated last name so it's a surprise he's not already committed.
- 4* UT RB Sione Lund. Lund recently told Brice Marich he still plans an official to Michigan in January.
- 3.5* CA OT Jalen McKenzie. McKenzie's popped up from time to time in articles where he's pining for offers from USC and Michigan, and he just did so again on Scout. Two, in fact. If Michigan offers he will at least take a visit.
- 3.5* MI CB Donovan Johnson. He's small but he's not that small, right? One of the enduring oddities of this recruiting cycle is the lack of M and MSU interest for Johnson—especially the latter given how things are going for MSU right now. If Michigan does not get Hicks they might throw an offer Johnson's way, and since he's at Cass you never know.
- 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian. Michigan kicked the tires on the BC commit earlier this year but withdrew.
In addition there will be random guys Michigan offers if they think they have spots to fill.
3.5* OH OL Joel Honigford is a bit of a forgotten man in the class what with all the five star types Michigan's been chasing. Matt Wenzel profiles him and gets some more detail. His coach:
"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is. He has put a lot of extra time and effort into becoming the best football player he can become."
Fairly generic coach quote but the bit about "that much bend" is interesting. Compare that to this evaluation of Aaron Banks's "areas for improvement":
Needs to polish some areas in his game like first step explosiveness, reactionary quickness, and a more consistent pad level. A focus on range of motion exercises will improve new bend, and allow him to better his setup prior to the snap.
I was led to believe that "bend"—the ability to play in a somewhat crouched position so that you can explode on contact—is largely a you-have-it-or-you-don't kind of thing. Michigan has prioritized that with their tackle recruits, and that's the most likely reason they didn't put a full court press on Banks
If you'd like to read Lorenz extensively quoted about Michigan locking down the state, this Matt Wenzel article is for you.
Nico Collins got recruited by a bunch of Bama guys at that All Star game they have against Mississippi; while our bet is on Michigan here, Collins is more in the DPJ boat than the Ruiz one—it wouldn't be a total shock if he decided on somewhere else. It would be a surprise, gotta dodge some visits, etc.
Harbaugh acolyte on Harbaugh violence as Oregon offers 2018 NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson plans to decide over the summer after a suite of unofficials including M, Oregon, UCLA, and a couple Florida schools.